The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Colorado Rockies Monday night at Coors Field in Denver, 9-3. The scenario was similar to that of a week ago, amped-up by the Park Factor, or whatever it is Ag and carp call that modifier, where the contending squad gets an early lead, the spoiler makes a little noise in the middle innings, then the contender says “nah,” and runs it out for the victory.
What wasn’t similar was the performance of Rockies’ rookie Jon Gray (0-2, 5.53). Gray channeled Kyle Kendrick early, surrendering solo home runs to Starling Marte and Aramis Ramirez in the opening frame. In the 2nd Gray gave-up a lead-off single to Francisco Cervelli and a double to no. 8 hitter Jordy Mercer to put the Pirates up 3-0. The Bucs used the same formula in the 4th, but added a 2-out single from Gregory Polanco to make it 5-0.
Colorado got it going against Pittsburgh starter AJ Burnett (9-5, 3.15) in the 5th. Justin Morneau singled leading-off and was forced at 2nd by DJ LeMahieu, then Corey Dickerson singled to knock LeMahieu over to 3rd before Tommy Murphy delivered his 2nd MLB home run, a no-doubter into the left-field pavilion. The Rockies proceeded to load the bases with 2 outs, Charlie Blackmon logging stolen bases nos. 39 and 40 in the process, but Nolan Arenado wasted a shot at homer no. 40, and Colorado had to settle for 3.
Pittsburgh made it 6-3 in the top of the 6th on Mercer’s 3rd of 4 hits and a double by Marte, then the Rockies got it working again in the bottom of the inning, when Dickerson doubled with 2 out and Burnett walked Murphy and pinch-hitter Ben Paulsen. But Blackmon came-up short, lining to Andrew McCutchen in center. The Pirates added a coup-de-gras 9th, beating-up Brooks Brown for 3 on 4 singles, a walk, and a throwing error by Murphy.
It’s game 2 of the 4-game skein tonight, same time, same station, 6:40 at Coors Field in Denver. Chris Rusin goes for Colorado against JA Happ of Pittsburgh in a battle of lefties.